The Spiritual Atheist..

If the purpose of speech is to convey a message. And an atheist calls himself spiritual. Isn't that person misrepresenting himself by using a word that is most largely viewed to be synonymous with "soul"? Even if he himself has his own unique meaning for it (which takes a 5 minute video to understand)

Let's be honest most people hear the word spirit and think soul.. don't they?

It seems like a way of justifying for no reason. If there is a lack of a better word... make a new one. To me I find that people are kind of ridiculed or perceived in a derogatory way if they admit or "come out" with believing they do not have a soul. Like you are somehow less of a person, lacking mystery, etc.. So when someone tries to find a convoluted means of explaining why they call themselves "spiritual". I feel that they are pandering to this unfortunate misperception.

Tags: souls, spirit

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I don't really have a problem with this . While I agree that the terms spiritual and spirituality are usually reserved for descriptions of supernatural phenomena by the credulous , the narrator makes it clear that he rejects supernatural causation for the phenomena he describes . I agree the video is a bit hokey , but if he wishes to use these terms to describe his feelings , I'd rather he use them than some bible lemming.

I would definitely prefer hearing this than some bible thumping. I agree there. I am not happy with how I titled this post. I think it is "ok". To say you're spiritual without believing in spirits. I just don't think it is ideal or a way of thinking for a rational person to aspire to.

I guess I would prefer to not tiptoe around the truth. I also think it is important that we don't pander to some of the ideals of the religious. Using the word spiritual is one of them.

A religious person gets a sigh of relief when one uses the word spiritual... because they know that believing in souls and spirits are the BASIS of big religion.

@ Ray R.  I loved that expression!  Bible lemming!  How wonderful is that!

Thank you , Strega , I too enjoy your many thoughtful , and well reasoned postings.

Having just spent Christmas in Lapland, surrounded by frozen tree's, snow covered hills & the Aurora Borealis, I can relate to your video in many ways. Standing in the middle of a forest being the only person for miles experiencing the moment that only can see is uniquely special & utterly mesmerising.

Ive often thought of that word, 'spiritual', & I feel uncomfortable with it. Maybe because the god squad have highjacked it & dragged it though their spirit world, I just cant bring myself to feel something whenever its used. But your right, we dont have a word to express the joy that we feel when you see the mountains or taste that apple butter (never had it, but it sounds nice)

I often just tell myself im 'in the moment'. That moment that cannot be explained by words, but only by feelings. Its unique & special, to me. 

For me, having been raised a catholic, I still feel that the word 'Spiritual' is linked too closely to religion, but of course it maybe different for you & may never had that rammed down your throat every Sunday, so it will have a totally unique meaning, & thats fine.

But a good subject to discuss. 

In the video he says he can only describe spirituality, to him as "the action or ability to see beauty, feel wonder and be in awe...". So by that definition, is there anyone alive who wouldn't be spiritual? Who can't see beauty, feel wonder or be in awe?

I just don't want to pander to religious ideals. I think it is a rationalists ideal to not use words (like spirituality) that elude meaning to the average person...

Does this guy show this video to everyone he says "i'm spiritual" to?

Of course, & this why I feel its very personal. 

If you don't mind me asking, what is your background? Have you ever had religion in your life? 

If we were to set up a poll on this site (maybe we could try it) Titled: What Does The Word Spiritual Mean to You? I think we will see a varied response, we may not, it maybe purely one sided. 

I'd be interested in seeing that as well...

My grandmother was my sunday school teacher at a Christian Science church. However, I was kinda spoiled and free to do and certainly think whatever I wanted. I never really believed in god. I pretended I did tho to not hurt my grandmothers feelings. Religion was quite a positive experience for me. I just didn't believe it. I started realizing that not many of peers did either. I don't think my parents did either. I think they just said they did JUST IN CASE. Cause it's so easy to say "I believe" and POSSIBLY save yourself eternal damnation. (this is one of religions powerful devices) Also because they didn't want to hurt their parents feelings.. as I didn't want to either. As I got older I found that most people around didn't like me speaking of my lack of belief. They felt a similar way. But they would rather joke around then speak of such things... I was regarded as party pooper. Where I felt that I was trying to speak the truth. I thought it was important. They didn't. Now, 20 years later, those people are much more ok with it tho. I think in reality... they didn't want to address it because they secretly feared how they would be regarded for thinking that way. It was still widely taboo and even considered "satanic"(as stupid as that sounds) to think that way. Now 20 years later its cool. And those same people enjoy my rants on Facebook. Or engage in conversation with me when at parties.

I feel like this is what will happen in regards to souls within 20 years time. (but we're not there yet) Right now people are still uncomfortable with coming out from the belief of the soul. I believe because in actual fact... that the SOUL is what gave birth to the idea of religion. I feel that the SOUL MUST have predated the idea of religion. Because religion NEEDS the soul in order to exist. So I believe the idea that we live on after death (which is predicated by the fear of death) was invented to ease our fear of what we don't understand... and what do we understand the least? Death...

Its because of this that I feel so strongly about rejecting the soul. I know that "non religious spiritual people" don't hurt anyone like the church does... but they still indirectly support it. Just as my grandmother would never hurt a fly. She indirectly supported it.

And that isn't ideal to me...


I remember when I was very young, maybe five years old, having an incredible, innocent sense of awe, wonder, and curiosity. No souls or spirits were involved. Then I was taught "how it is". I doubt I will ever fully recover. We need a new language because these beautiful thoughts are misrepresented.

The new language.. I said this below but will share it with you...

Semantics are important. I wish we didn't have to worry about it. It especially makes atheists debates difficult because each word has SO MANY meanings. Religion, God, Atheist, Agnostic, Spiritual, Soul, etc.. all these words have so much baggage.

I look forward to a time (and I believe it will come relatively soon) when current limited forms of the written / spoken word are obsolete. A quaint memory of a primitive form of language used by early humans... If technology as a natural process had an agenda (and it almost appears to have one) it's priority would be supercharging our means of communication to unimaginable levels. When we have the ability to connect our minds (of course many will reject it but that's irrelevant) and can share our thoughts, ideas, memories, visuals, emotions with anyone at any time from anywhere instantly. That will be a beautiful language to me. There will no longer be language barriers. That will be the global language. Misunderstanding will be scarce. The fair and just thing to do will be something attainable by both parties. Of course there will always be pockets of people along the way who choose to not join in to the global conversation... and that is ok too.

However, we're not there yet... so for now we have to try our best be understood. I think if one (such as the video maker) describes spirituality as "the action or ability to see beauty, feel wonder and be in awe..." he should realize he is unique there. But that EVERYONE jas the action or ability to feel that way so in that sense of the word then EVERYONE would be spiritual. Making the word meaningless. Why couldn't we describe that feeling more for what it is... something like awestruck. A new word?

I use "uplifting", but when written, it looks more like an elevator function :)

is it ok to call oneself Spiritual when they don't believe in Spirits?

That depends on your audience. If you're alone, call yourself anything you want, because there's no chance for misunderstanding. Likewise, in the company of those who know of your atheism: they'll understand you mean secular spirituality or humanistic spirituality.

The religious, on the other hand, will assume you mean a soul or the feeling of God's presence. So you have two options. Clarify your meaning or accept that you are being misunderstood.

Online or among family and friends, I lean toward the former. Among strangers on a train, I tend to the latter.

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